BBC director general reverses complaint about Naga Munchetty surrounding Donald Trump's racist tweets

PUBLISHED: 19:19 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 19:38 30 September 2019

The BBC's Naga Munchetty. Photograph: BBC.

The BBC's Naga Munchetty. Photograph: BBC.

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The BBC's director general has overturned a complaint about BBC breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty after reports suggested she was not the sole subject of the original complaint.

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In another email to BBC employees Tony Hall said he was personally intervening in the complaint upheld by the BBC's Executive Complaints Unit (ECU).

He said: "Racism is racism and the BBC is not impartial on the topic. There was never a finding against Naga for what she said about the president's tweet.

"Many of you asked that I personally review the decision of the ECU. I have done so. I have looked carefully at all the arguments that have been made and assessed all of the materials. I have also examined the complaint itself.

He added: "I don't think Naga's words were sufficient to merit a partial uphold of the complaint around the comments she made.

"There was never any sanction against Naga and I hope this step makes that absolutely clear. She is an exceptional journalist and presenter and I am proud that she works for the BBC."

The ECU had ruled that Munchetty crossed the line when she condemned comments made by Trump when he told female Democrat politicians to "go back" to their own countries.

In a July BBC Breakfast broadcast, prompted by co-presenter Dan Walker, Munchetty went on to give her opinion on Trump in response to his remarks.

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But it has since been claimed that the original complaint about Naga Munchetty's Donald Trump comments that led to her being reprimanded by the BBC also mentioned her co-host Walker.

The corporation's director of editorial policy and standards David Jordan said on two occasions that Walker could not be included in the rebuke as he was not referred to in the specific complaint that was partially upheld by the ECU.

But according to The Guardian, the original complaint did refer to Walker, with the member of the public describing him as "very unprofessional" and accusing him of "repeatedly expressing incredulity" that Trump's remarks could be defended.

The newspaper reports that it was only in a later version of the complaint that "specifically focused on Ms Munchetty's comments rather than Mr Walker's" that was the focus of the ECU investigation.

The corportation has faced a backlash over its decision, with a petition calling for its decision to be reversed attracting more than 14,000 signatures.

Stars including Sir Lenny Henry, Gina Yashere and Adrian Lester said its position in rebuking Munchetty was "deeply flawed" and "illegal" in a letter.

Elsewhere, the likes of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and chancellor Sajid Javid were among those who have criticised the ruling and aired support for Munchetty, and broadcasting watchdog OFCOM will also assess what was said against its own broadcasting rules.

The Sunday Times alleged that minority staff and presenters at the BBC were told by the corporation not to join in any form of protest supporting Munchetty.

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